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The College Merthyr Tydfil Celebrates International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day (IWD) is a global celebration of women's achievements and their contributions to social, economic, cultural, and political realms. The College Merthyr Tydfil takes pride in recognising the powerful role women play within its community. Below are a few of our case studies that showcase the fantastic achievements of some of our female learners.

Liliy Philips

Lily Phillips, an alumna of Afon Taf High School, joined the college to study a BTEC Level 3 Engineering course. Despite being the only girl in the class and facing gender norms in engineering, Lily thrived. She is now on an Aspire Shared apprenticeship program with her host employer Tenneco-Walker. Reflecting on her journey, she shares, "I enjoyed college so much; my experience was so positive. My tutors were predominantly male, and I was the only girl in the class, but I was never made to feel that way. They saw how determined I was, and they respected that. They gave me so many opportunities and taught me so much, and they were such a good support system that it really encouraged me to try harder." Lily's advice to young women echoes her journey, urging them to pursue their passions, break barriers, and showcase that determination knows no gender boundaries.

The college, committed to providing a supportive and inclusive environment, is driving forward key projects in partnership with employers, businesses, and local schools to inspire females to explore traditionally male-dominated areas like engineering and construction.

One such project is the Welsh Valleys Engineering Partnership Panasonic Trust Future Engineering Ambassador scheme.

Rhiannon Abastillas

Current student Rhiannon Abastillas, who is studying A levels, Maths, Art, Engineering and Computer Science, is a recipient of this scheme. The scheme, which was introduced to embed sustainable, systemic change in engineering education across Merthyr Tydfil and Blaenau Gwent, aims and to encourage greater numbers of young people in the region to study STEM subjects and equip them for possible career in engineering. 
As part of this project, the college are offering 10 bursaries of £2,000 each for learners coming from the Merthyr Tydfil schools who wish to progress on to a career in Engineering and are opting to study subjects that will help them to pursue this career. This is what Rhiannon had to say about studying with us:

“The reason I have chosen to study at The College Merthyr Tydfil is because of its diverse and comforting environment which has allowed me to feel welcomed at the college. The College has provided me with the support needed to feel reassured about my A levels and future career path, through excellent teaching and their care for all students.

The College Merthyr Tydfil has also given me a chance to enhance and explore my future interests such as engineering, specifically mechanics. Without The College Merthyr I would have never known about Dragon Air Racing or becoming an Engineering Ambassador, which has helped to hone my creative abilities in designing veneer for cars to being able to create the graphics for the team as their “Graphic Designer”, in return this has allowed me to hone the abilities of teamwork and social skills, as well as given me the opportunity to promote women in STEM. Because of The College Merthyr Tydfil I have pushed myself to further my choice of an Engineering Career path to become either a Mechanical Engineer, Aerospace Engineer or Design Engineer. Engineering has become a gateway to be able to use my creative abilities as well as problem solving abilities. To me becoming an engineer doesn’t mean repeating what has already been made but innovating innovative ideas and technologies to enhance the society of today whether it be Achieving practical human space travel at 1/10 light speed or more or simply finding more renewable and sustainable ways to supply energy e.g., Fusion Energy.

When I leave college, I want to be able to attend University to go on to study engineering and become one of the only women in my family to ever had become an engineer, to pursue my dreams of designing efficient and smart technology which will be able to help even the smallest issues in the world.

Without The College Merthyr Tydfil helps I would not be able to have received the opportunities I have received such as my Engineering Bursary which has not only helped me to save up for university expenses but also to become an Engineering Ambassador, which allows me to inspire younger generation into considering pathways to engineering.

Kayla Norman

Current Panasonic Trust Engineering Ambassador Kayla is studying A-level in Mathematics, Physics and History. This is what she had to say about studying at The College Merthyr Tydfil and being a women in the engineering industry.

“I am currently in my second year at the college studying A – Levels in Mathematics, Physics and History and I hope to in the future go on to study Mechanical Engineering at university. Being at the college has allowed me to explore my interests further and discover what I want my future to look like. The staff at the college are nearly always available to chat and talk about any concerns about the classwork which has really supported my development and confidence in my abilities. I have been offered many opportunities to support my development in ways both related and nonrelated to my course most notably competing in the F1 in Schools competition representing the College. I hope that the skills and opportunities I have been able to gain at the college will allow me to be a top candidate for roles within large and well-known engineering companies in the future and to expand my connections within the industry to continue rising to higher-ranked jobs. The subjects I am studying here have prepared me for the future allowing me to gain significant and necessary knowledge that will be essential to gain future experience and opportunities as my time as a student comes to an end.”

Dion Archer

Dion Archer, a student at The College Merthyr Tydfil, has clinched a coveted spot in the future Squad UK after a spectacular performance in the National Finals. Her gold-winning performance in hairdressing at the National Finals has been the talk of the college, and it has opened doors for her to participate in the WorldSkills UK International Competition Development Programme, aiming for the WorldSkills Shanghai 2026—the world's largest vocational skills competition. The entire college community is thrilled and proud to cheer on Dion as she embarks on this exciting journey!

Dion's passion for hairdressing is evident in every strand of her work. Her dedication, talent, and hard work have not only earned her recognition but also inspire others to pursue their dreams. As the college remains committed to providing a supportive and inclusive environment, stories like Dion's serve as a testament to the opportunities available to all students who dare to dream big and put in the effort to make those dreams a reality.

As we celebrate International Women's Day, let's remember that we all have a role to play in challenging stereotypes and advocating for inclusion. The college encourages everyone to embrace equity and inspire inclusion. Together, we can create a world where women's voices and contributions are valued and celebrated.

Happy International Women's Day!

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